Jan 4, 1919
Received your letter today, sure was glad to hear from you. Oh yes, I will get back to Hoosier some time or other. The Colonel said we would all be in our own homes in April so if we do we will have to get on the move, toot sweet! There are six hundred of the 35th Reg. boys leaving this week for the USA, the second battalion, D,E & F Companies. The rest of us will follow as fast as transportation facilities will permit. Yes, I see in the Stars & Stripes there are several of the A.E.F. boys going home, but Wilson won't leave until Feb 15. Yes, I get a letter from Harley every day or two. He is OK. His address is Co. A, 325 Inf. APO 742, American EF, 82nd Div. I sent it to you several weeks ago but will write it again to be sure you get it.
Well, I got a new job yesterday. They made me Bugler for this company. Some job, eh! Well, I'll say I can make her warble! The boys are already telling me how the hobnail shoes will fly at me some cold morning when I wake them up with my old bugle. I told them I guessed I'd have to wear my tin hat when I played First call. One Corporal said all he wanted me to play was Chow call, Pay call and Recall, ha! Ha! I guess we would have it pretty soft if the Corporal had the orders to issue.
Well, I hope you all escape the flu. It's started in this Reg. again but they jugged the first few fellows in a barracks by theirselves and put a guard around it. I didn't know it was quarantined so I had to go through between the two buildings to play for Guard mount this A.M., and I had taken about six steps down the board walk when "HALT! GET OFF THAT WALK!" Well, I lopes off on the ground and asked the Guard if he had anything very dangerous in his cage and he said "Yes, the flu." So he didn't have a very hard time keeping me off the walk after that. So you see how quick they step on a disease in the Army.
The guy that bossed our Carpenter Squad is in bed today all day and I brought his supper to him tonight in bed. He wouldn't eat much, drank a cup of coffee and took a few bites. I've been telling him he ought to go to the hospital but he just reports sick of mornings and goes back to bed. I guess he's not got any flu or he would get sent up, toot sweet.
If a fellow reports with the least fraction of a degree of fever, he is taken away from the company. I know the Dr. liked to have dropped dead last fall when I came in off the job with 104 degrees, ha! That's just about all I can walk with and a little more than I can carry and know just all the time which end I am walking on. But if you could see me now you would think I never saw a sick day. I'd just like to get home with just as much weight as I got just now. This birdseed and goldfish sure agrees with me.
We get fresh water to drink, too, now and I believe the water was what made me sick last fall. Every thing was a pellmell rush and we were drinking water that had so much salt in it that it would almost strangle a guy to drink it. A many a day I've went without water until I'd just have to drink that dope and as soon as I'd start to let my breath down after drinking, I could feel the roots of my hair wriggle around and then I'd have a regular cucumber chill, ha! Ha! No joke. Then one day after the war stopped they run out of water, used all they dared to out of the reserve tank, and had to do something. So someone struck onto the bright idea of hitching old 494 to a string of tankers and going inland some place to a fresh water well and getting on a supply. So after that we always had fresh water. The salt water came out of a well, too, but so close to the ocean that it is almost as salty as the ocean itself.
The wrecking cars, or cranes we call them, used this salt water and it would just knock a boiler in a hurry with leaky places all around and lumps of salt as big as goose eggs hanging all over the boilers. We all drank it and most of us are alive yet.
I can't name anyone in particular who got killed without sending this letter through records office in Washington DC, but when things were going full force, it kept the stretcher bearers skipping sometimes. But it's all over with now and these yards are all cleaned up. You would hardly recognize the place from the way it looked November 11, 1918. Where we had stacks of boxes 40 feet high in Nov & Dec, is now as clean as a lettuce bed. And where 5 and six cranes were lifting material, now there is but one, and it isn't worked very hard. Very soon now there won't be any more Yanks in old Camp Pullman and the troop trains are all going backwards to what they did in November.
Say, it is snowing, what do you think of that, and they say it doesn't get cold in LaRochelle! Of course, it's not staying on the ground but I can say I saw it snow anyway. It's been frozen up here for a couple weeks now. I was on guard Saturday night and a freight train went through just about daylight and I saw some barrels on a car that looked like they had been rolled in the snow. I told the other sentries we would get it in a few days for these French trains don't run fast enough to get snow very far away from where it fell. Just running over night would take a French crew just about 5 days from Indianapolis to Effingham.
Well, I guess I'd better close and hit the hay for I've got to roll out first man in the morning. I'm not very swift about getting on these wrap leggings and confrapees, so if I don't get up early and start I'll be playing reveille around dinner time, ha! I'll be like the boy was by the watch his father-in-law sent him after he went to camp. His daddy-in-law sent him a watch and told him it was a military watch and the latest thing out. He carried it awhile and wrote back and told his wife to tell her dad that he was right that it was a military watch. That it was on 2 hours and off 4. That it was the latest thing around his place, that if he ever answered call by it, he would be falling in for Retreat (about 5 PM) around time for Taps (10 PM) Ha!
Well, will close. Will be helping you make ties soon. I still have plenty Hillside. Tell Wardie I will help him eat his hickory nuts in the near future. Read the letters from No. 1 to 3, and tell me what you think about it. As ever,
Pvt. Lawrence McCoy, same address